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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Burke Pacing Series, Scandinavian Slump

The third leg of the Ron Burke Pacing Series (aka George Morton Levy Memorial) is in the books and once again, the Burke stable is showings its prowess by winning three of the four legs, starting with Foiled Again, the 10 year old wonder horse, winning in 1:52 and being 3 for 3 in the series.

Not that the Burke stable is doing anything wrong, but they are making a mockery of this once prestigious pacing series and the blame falls with Yonkers Raceway for scheduling this series this early in the season when Burke can send his best horses against horses which typically aren't competitive against the best racing stock.  I realize many trainers look at the Yonkers oval with trepidation, refusing to send their stock to compete on the half, but if the series started a month later, the series would be a good warm up for the FFA racing wars of summer.

Even better would be if the series went on the road for certain legs, in order to mix things up.  Now I realize Yonkers is unlikely to partner with the Meadowlands and let them have a leg of the series in East Rutherford, but with Pocono Downs, Harrah's, and  the Delaware circuit under way, having legs on these tracks might get a better stock of horses competing.

Until then, the Levy makes a great viewing event, not so much for betting.

Assuming the winter is finally over, April 25 is the debut of Victory Terrace, the roof-top entertainment area at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment.  In a continuing effort to get new people into the facility to experience the facility, Victory Bar will be starting club nights as well.

A sure sign of spring is the kick-off of qualifying races at Vernon Downs.  Truman Gale came out strong on the first day of qualifiers.

According to the Helsinki Times, Finnish trotting has been suffering since the economic collapse of 2008.  Trotting in Finland has always been considered a hobby sport so when the economy went south, breeding declined greatly as well as private horse ownership.  While all sectors of the industry has been hurting, it is somewhat comforting to know that wagering has only dropped 8% since 2008, meaning it is doing better than the other indicators.

One reason betting has declined is 80% of trotting fans in Finland tend to be middle or working class men, those who suffered the most in this economic downturn.  However, industry leaders feel once the economy bounces back, so will the sport.

The problem doesn't lie along in trotting.  Thoroughbred breeding is down 35%, worrisome at this point but if it continues to drop, the running sport will be in trouble.  As for the Finnhorse, their breeding level is reaching the lowest levels in over 30 years.  Being this native cold-blooded trotting horse is bred only in Finland, a continuing decline in breeding threatens the existence of the breed.

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